…then it’s a fix!
President Granger has said that Opposition Leader Jagdeo must “justify” his rejection of his (Granger’s) nomination of Justice Kenneth Benjamin for Chancellor of our Judiciary and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards for our Chief Justice. Now, the law governing appointing of the Chancellor and Chief Justice is pretty clear about appointments, and is governed by Article 127.
Section (1) declares, “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.” Nothing there about either party offering “explanations” for their choice, is there? Section (2) explains if there’s no AGREEMENT on these substantive appointments; then, after “meaningful consultations by the President with the Opp Leader, the former can make ACTING appointments.
President Granger appointed Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards as ACTING Chancellor and Justice Roxane George as ACTING Chief Justice when the incumbent ACTORS retired. He waxed eloquently about this being a banner day for Guyana with two women occupying the top two judicial positions!! His sacred cow, Simona “I is” Broomes, gushed, “I believe, as well, that the elevation of two women to these distinguished positions is a reflection of the determination of the administration of President David Granger to enrich the lives and enhance the profiles of Guyanese women.”
But then, seeking to nominate SUBSTANTIVE appointees, President Granger selected Justice Kenneth Benjamin of Belize for the Chancellorship, and effectively demoted Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards to Chief Justice. Justice Roxane George was tossed out on her ear!!
Not surprisingly, not only did the Opposition Leader reject Granger’s choices – which he claimed came from the pool of applicants – but so did the Bar Association!!
Justice Benjamin, after all, had been accused by the Belize Bar of delaying justice for litigants (and thus denying justice!) by sitting on cases for two to five years!! The matter was raised in June 2016, and Benjamin replied, “I have regrettably accumulated a number of reserved judgements over an extended period of time. It is embarrassing, and I accept full responsibility.”
He then promised to complete two cases per week and remove the backlog by mid-September. He actually completed THREE! Or one per MONTH!!
The matter was raised again by the Bar the following year, 2017 – the year Granger nominated him for our top spot. Benjamin allowed as to how the matter had caused him “much anxiety and distress”, and he’d use his vacation to correct the situation. He begged that “the patience and understanding of the Bar is craved.”
Belize is still craving, since the backlog’s still there!! Since Granger’s raised the matter of ‘explanations’ from Jagdeo, shouldn’t he first explain why he chose Justice Benjamin?
Is it because he’s an ex-GDF Officer who’d served under him?
…it’s contempt for women
But Granger also owes an explanation to the women of Guyana, whom he said had now been facilitated by him to break the “glass ceiling”. We don’t expect any reprimands from Simona Broomes; they have to protect each other’s backs!! (Will the PNC ever look into the Broomes’ churlish behaviour at Amazonia now that the ball has been tossed into their court by Granger?) But what about other women’s groups, now that Granger feels “explanations” are necessary in the matter of top judicial appointments?
Where exactly have either Justice Cummings or Justice George shown that they’re not “fit and proper” to be confirmed in their positions substantively?? Last week, CNN showed a documentary of the life of Justice Ruth Ginsberg and the obstacles she faced to get into the US Supreme Court. But she overcome them by fighting for equal rights for women for over fifty years – and winning!!
It appears Guyana’s still run by an “old boy’s network”, and women have to accept being second class.
Even when they’re first rate! Explain why?
…Granger is miffed
Justice George earned President Granger’s ire when she ruled against his interpretation that the GECOM Chair must be a judicial person.
That’s her “perception”, he sniffed!! And she’s yesterday’s news!! And Granger need to explain why!